Imagine something in your body that can help you maintain your healthy weight, make you happier and keep you healthier. That is the role of the microbiome or good bacteria in our bodies. It is found all over the body, but especially in the digestive system (gut bacteria) and the mouth. During perimenopause and menopause the bacteria can suffer changes and it may have an effect in weight gain, depression, lack of sleep, hot flashes and other symptoms.

Importance of good bacteria o microbiome during menopause and perimenopause

As you know we are full of bacteria, we have more bacteria than cells, about 10 times more.

That bacteria is critical for our wellbeing. Our microbiome, microbiota, or just bacteria, has a direct effect on our health, both physical and emotional. For this reason the microbiome is important for everyone, and at the time of menopause or perimenopause a healthy microbiome can help us have and easier transition. A non healthy microbiome can make us sick.

The microbiome can have an effect on the development of diabetes, obesity, depression and other illnesses common during midlife. It is very important to keep our bacteria happy.
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Microbiome and hormones during menopause and perimenopause

It can get very complicated when talking about endocrinology, in other words hormones, but we will keep it simple. The good bacteria in our bodies contribute to the composition of our blood which influences hormone levels. This has a direct effect on our immune system.

The microbiome influences the hormones, and the hormonal levels also influence the microbiome, it is a give and take relationship. During menopause and perimenopause the lowers levels of estrogens change the bacterial composition in the body, and this affects other hormones.

Many scientists suspect that this has a direct effect on belly fat accumulation.

The microbiome becomes one more very important aspect in bringing balance to our body. When talking about bacteria, we are talking of a new medical frontier. There is still much to be discovered and proven. But it has become accepted that it has a role to play in many of the menopause and perimenopause symptoms.
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Keeping the microbiome healthy after 40

Some practical tips to keep the microbiome healthy during post menopause and perimenopause.
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Old fashion

Our bacteria is very old fashioned. It does not like anything modern, including any foods that are not found in nature. Preservatives, artificial colors or flavors and processed foods alter the microbiome, destroying the good guys and helping the bad ones.

Our bacteria is very old fashioned. It does not like anything modern, including any foods that are not found in nature. Preservatives, artificial colors or flavors and processed foods alter the microbiome, destroying the good guys and helping the bad ones.

The good bacteria does not react well to animals raised with antibiotics and hormones and with vegetables full of pesticides. Organic produce and ethically raised animals are better.


From food

The bacteria also prefers nutrients from foods instead of vitamin pills and this could be a reason why many vitamins are not absorbed well by our bodies.
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Loves plants

Our bacteria is very health conscious. It loves plants. It prefers non soluble fiber. Some of its favorite foods are onions, garlic, asparagus, leeks and similar foods. These foods have non digestible fibers. The fibers reach the big intestine and there the bacteria interacts with them and as a byproduct creates some important nutrients and it reproduces keeping the colony healthy.

The good bacteria’s favorite nutrient seems to be glutamine. This is an amino acid found in meats such as poultry, beef, and fish. It is also found in vegetables like the ones mentioned above.

Our bacteria loves vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes. These are the prebiotics, in other words the food for the micro-biotics. Some foods like onion and garlic and some spices also help to kill bad bacteria, helping the good one.

good bacteria o microbiome and hormone connection


Loves a healthy lifestyle

The good bacteria thrives with nutrient-rich foods, low stress levels, regular exercise and sleep. In return the good bacteria help us sleep better, lowers inflammation, and regulates our stress levels.
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Likes good fats

Omega 3’s are also important for the microbiome. These fats help us keep the intestinal lining healthy and this avoids the overgrowth of bad bacteria.
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It doesn’t do drugs

The microbiota does not like medicines, especially if they alter the balance of acidity-alkalinity in the body. Most medicines are not microbiome friendly but some are more damaging than others such as anti-acids, and the worst are the antibiotics.

Antibiotics kill all bacteria, bad and good. Even natural antibiotic substances can have a very negative impact.


Fermented foods

We can include foods that naturally contain good bacteria such as lacto-fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir, miso and kombucha to add more friendly bacteria to out gut.

We are all different and for that reason some of us benefit more with some types of foods containing bacteria. You can rotate between yogurt, sauerkraut and other foods to see which help you improve your digestion and bowel elimination. For me that food is sauerkraut, for you it maybe a type of yogurt.

Kefir is one the richest sources of bacteria, but try to have the non-sugar version.


What to do if you suspect your bacteria is under attack

We are constantly eliminating bacteria so we need to keep feeding the one we have. If you incorporate some of the advice above, especially when it comes to food, your microbiome will be healthier.

In normal circumstances there is no need to take probiotic pills. The bacteria depends on our health and for that reason we need to improve our lifestyle in general. Follow some the advice above and you should see some improvement. You may try a macrobiotic supplement, but usually they only work if you make lifestyle changes.

In extreme cases a few doctors are recommending fecal transplants in order to improve menopause symptoms, but this is rare.
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Keep it real, peaceful and easy

Many people recommend radical healthy diets for menopausal women, I do not. There are a few reasons for this, stress is bad, and a new diet will create stress and bad hormones. We first need to love ourselves so we can listen to our intuition because we have too many choices. How do you find the real diet? Who are you going to believe?

There are a lot of diets out there, most of them by people with little science background. Some of those people become fervent preachers promoting their diet to a level of extreme fanaticism. This scares away a lot of people. For those reasons I recommend to go slow and steady.

What I told you in this article is scientifically accepted by almost all the scientific community. It includes things that are easy to incorporate in our lives and most of them are pleasant.

Our bacteria wants the best for us, by doing the best for our bacteria we are also affecting in a positive way our hormones and with that our energy levels, sleep, capacity to concentrate and mood. It is a win-win situation.


In conclusion

Our microbiome plays a crucial role in our health and it is affected by the hormonal changes that occurred during menopause and perimenopause. During this time we have to be more consistent in helping our bacteria so we can be healthier and even happier. Just a few changes can have enormous benefits.

Read: perimenopause and menopause without bad symptoms

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Photos by Gabrielle Henderson and Mel Elías on Unsplash

5 Comments on Protecting your microbiome for women over 50

  1. Very interesting article, I have never heard of this bacteria. I have to find a like for fermented foods. I not a fan of these at all, but I have learned to like many new things since changing to the keto lifestyle.

    • Oh you do Keto, I find that diet so difficult, but I know it works well for many people. This is the bacteria living in us, some scientists think that we are a combine being human + bacteria.

  2. I really enjoyed this article. As I was reading, I thought of something a friend used to say. Nature’s food in nature’s package. Good for us, good for the planet.

  3. You’ve brought up so many important facts. I’ve never even heard of bacteria used in this context as it relates to our health. Thank you for bringing this to our attention. Happy Blogging!

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